Abigail Smith Adams
Born: November 22, 1744 at Weymouth, Massachusetts Bay
Died: October 28, 1818 (aged 73) at Quincy, Massachusetts
Spouse: John Adams (m. 1764 – 1818)
First Lady of the United States (1797 – 1801)
Second Lady of the United States (1789 – 1797)
ABIGAIL was born 11 November 1744, in Weymouth, Massachusetts, to the Reverend William and Elizabeth (Quincy) Smith. She had no formal schooling, but her education included reading works by Shakespeare, Milton, and Pope.
On 25 October 1764, she married John Adams. John Adams’ protracted absences from home (first while traveling the court circuits and later while at the Continental Congress and on diplomatic assignments abroad) often left Abigail with the children to raise, a farm to manage, the household and tenants to supervise, and extended family and friends to care for all while the Revolution in Boston unfolded on her doorstep.
The letters she exchanged with John and other family members reveal her cares and worries, her frank opinions and advice, and give an extraordinary view of everyday life in 18th-century New England.
In 1784, Adams and her daughter Abigail joined John and son John Quincy in Europe. Abigail’s record of her month-long voyage from Boston to England, along with two shorter journals she kept while in England and on her return voyage to America in 1788, are printed in The Adams Papers’ Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, volume 3. During the 12 years of John Adams’ vice-presidency and presidency, Abigail moved between their home in Quincy and the national capitol in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., successively.
Again, the burden of their household and personal affairs fell on her capable shoulders. She was also responsible for raising nieces and grandchildren entrusted to her care. Among her notable correspondents were Thomas Jefferson, James Lovell, Benjamin Rush, and Mercy Otis Warren. Abigail Adams died 28 October 1818, at home in Quincy.
Facts about Abigail Smith Adams
Abigail became First Lady in March 1801, at 52 years of age.
Her husband’s involvement in politics meant he was frequently gone from home. During the American Revolution she was often left in charge of all the household responsibilities which not only included raising their children but also handling business dealings such as purchasing land, selling crops, and tenant interactions.
She was the 1st First Lady to live in the newly built White House (originally called the President’s House) in Washington DC.
She supported the fight for the abolition of slavery which she believed to be evil and a threat to democracy. Abigail was an advocate for women’s rights and equal public education for women.
Over the years together John and Abigail wrote over 1,000 letters to each other. These letters document their fond relationship and the importance John put on her political point of view. She suffered of poor health during her last years.
Abigail Smith Adams Childhood
She was born as Abigail Smith to William Smith and Elizabeth (née Quincy) Smith on November 11, 1744, in Weymouth, Massachusetts Bay. Her father was a liberal Congregationalist minister who emphasized the importance of reason and morality in his preaching. She had one brother and two sisters. Abigail was sickly as a child, so her parents did not send her for formal schooling. Instead, her mother herself taught the little girl to read and write. The family had a huge library which enabled her to study English and French literature. She grew up to be an open-minded, well-read young woman with a deep passion for books.
Where is Abigail Smith Adams buried?
Abigail Smith Adams is buried beside her husband in a crypt located in the United First Parish Church (also known as the Church of the Presidents) in Quincy, Massachusetts.
How did Abigail Smith Adams die?
Adams died on October 28, 1818, of typhoid fever. She was 73 years old, exactly two weeks shy of her 74th birthday.